In the early 2000s, Pennsylvania lawmakers established 3 distinct levels of DUI penalties. This tiered approach is similar to DUI categories in several other states. Each category focuses on both treatment and punishment for DUI offenders. In Pennsylvania, the 3 levels of DUI impairment are:

  • General Impairment
  • High Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
  • Highest BAC

We will explain each level of impairment in greater detail. If you are charged with a DUI offense of any sort in Pennsylvania, contact an attorney at Wyland Law Group by calling 412-710-0013.

General Impairment DUI (.08 — .099%)

The first level of DUI impairment is “general impairment.” General impairment refers to a BAC ranging from .08 percent (the standard measure for impairment in nearly every state) to .099 percent. Additionally, general impairment can refer to an undetermined BAC. 

In general, the severity of the penalties for general impairment are related to the number of offenses on your record. For Pennsylvanians with a clean driving record, penalties typically range from a $300 fine to six months’ probation or mandatory alcohol/highway safety courses. Drivers with previous offenses on their records face harsher penalties for general impairment. Penalties can include 6 months of jail time, an ignition interlock device, a license suspension (up to 1 year) and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Any Pennsylvania driver with more than two DUI offenses will face the maximum penalty, which includes a second-degree misdemeanor charge. Drivers with more than two DUI offenses also face higher maximums: $5,000 for fines and 2 years for jail time.

High BAC DUI (.10 — .159%)

The second level of DUI impairment in Pennsylvania is what is known as “high BAC.”  The term refers to a BAC of .10 percent to .159 percent. Pennsylvania drivers with high BAC face a 12-month license suspension, up to 6 months in prison, and/or a fine of up to $5,000–even without any prior offenses. Drivers with high BAC may also receive mandatory treatment and highway safety courses. For drivers who have had prior offenses, the minimum fine increases by $750, while the minimum jail time increases by 30 days. As with general impairment, drivers with multiple offenses and a high BAC face stiffer penalties. For drivers with 2 or 3 DUIs on their record, high BAC is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor and carries an 18-month license suspension. Drivers with 3 or more DUIs face a prison term of 1 to 5 years.

Highest BAC DUI (.16% and higher)

The last level of impairment in Pennsylvania is what is referred to as “highest BAC.” This level corresponds to BAC readings of .16 percent or higher. Drivers at this level receive a mandatory license suspension, even if it is their first DUI offense (the length of the suspension is 12 months for drivers with a clean record and 18 months for drivers with prior DUIs). A highest BAC DUI is a serious offense in Pennsylvania.

If you have been charged with a DUI, there is a lot at stake. You should contact a knowledgable and experienced attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. We’re here to help! Get a free case evaluation by calling 412-710-0013.